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Role of Nutrition Education in Promoting Healthy Diets

Food and nutrition education has a critical role in enabling access to sufficient quality and quantity of foods for households and communities. Educational seminars and resources in food and nutrition have been shown to positively affect individuals' food choices. Nutrition and food systems education can be focused on a number of related topics and aimed at individuals, households, and groups of all ages.

A healthy diet is essential for good health and nutrition.

It protects you against many chronic non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Eating a variety of foods and consuming less salt, sugars, and saturated and industrially-produced trans-fats, are essential for a healthy diet.

A healthy diet comprises a combination of different foods. These include:

  • Staples like cereals (wheat, barley, rye, maize, or rice) or starchy tubers or roots (potato, yam, taro, or cassava).

  • Legumes (lentils and beans).

  • Fruit and vegetables.

  • Foods from animal sources (meat, fish, eggs, and milk).

Role of Nutrition Education in Promoting Healthy Diets
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Most people believe that a balanced diet is definitely the key to a healthy lifestyle. It is rightly believed as even scientists say so. When we always consume a balanced diet, we will maintain our physical as well as mental health. A balanced diet must contain the proper foods that are consumed in apt quantities. A perfectly balanced diet comprises carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, high fiber content, vitamins, and more.

Steps to healthy eating

Breastfeed babies and young children:

  • A healthy diet starts early in life - breastfeeding fosters healthy growth and may have longer-term health benefits, like reducing the risk of becoming overweight or obese and developing non-communicable diseases later in life.

  • Feeding babies exclusively with breast milk from birth to 6 months of life is important for a healthy diet. It is also important to introduce a variety of safe and nutritious complementary foods at 6 months of age while continuing to breastfeed until your child is two years old and beyond.

Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit:

  • They are important sources of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, plant protein, and antioxidants.

  • People with diets rich in vegetables and fruit have a significantly lower risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

Eat less fat:

  • Fats and oils and concentrated sources of energy. Eating too much, particularly the wrong kinds of fat, like saturated and industrially-produced trans-fat, can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

  • Using unsaturated vegetable oils (olive, soy, sunflower, or corn oil) rather than animal fats or oils high in saturated fats (butter, ghee, lard, coconut, and palm oil) will help consume healthier fats.

  • To avoid unhealthy weight gain, consumption of total fat should not exceed 30% of a person's overall energy intake.

Limit intake of sugars:

  • For a healthy diet, sugars should represent less than 10% of your total energy intake. Reducing even further to under 5% has additional health benefits.

  • Choosing fresh fruits instead of sweet snacks such as cookies, cakes, and chocolate helps reduce the consumption of sugars.

  • Limiting the intake of soft drinks, soda and other drinks high in sugars (fruit juices, cordials and syrups, flavored milk, and yogurt drinks) also helps reduce the intake of sugars.

Reduce salt intake:

  • Keeping your salt intake to less than 5h per day helps prevent hypertension and reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke in the adult population.

  • Limiting the amount of salt and high-sodium condiments (soy sauce and fish sauce) when cooking and preparing foods helps reduce salt intake.

Benefits of a balanced diet

  • Opting for a balanced, adequate, and varied diet is an important step towards a happy and healthy lifestyle.

  • Vitamins and minerals in the diet are vital to boost immunity and healthy development,

  • A healthy diet can protect the human body against certain types of diseases, particularly non-communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancer, and skeletal conditions.

  • Healthy diets can also contribute to adequate body weight.

  • Healthy eating is a good opportunity to enrich life by experimenting with different foods from different cultures, and origins and with different ways to prepare food.

  • The benefits of eating a wide variety of foods are also emotional, as variety and color are important ingredients of a balanced diet.

  • One must always eat fresh vegetables and fruits. As fresh fruits and vegetables are great sources of fiber and vitamins, we must consume them for good body growth. Try to avoid eating deep-fried or overcooked food as it loses all its nutrients. A balanced diet must have the five essential elements, i.e. bitter, sour, sweet, pungent, and salty. Also, the emphasis is on fresh fruits because the processed or packed ones do not have nutrients.

Most importantly, always chew your food patiently. Do not just swallow it after chewing four four-five times. This way your food won’t get digested properly. Savor the food slowly and steadily. Next, do not eat in excess. You must know when to draw the line and stop when you don’t have the appetite. Therefore, we see how a balanced diet will keep you healthy and fit. It will improve the quality of your life and keep all the illnesses away.

To attain good health and nutritional status, people also need sufficient knowledge and skills to grow, purchase, process, prepare, eat and feed their families a variety of foods, in the right quantities and combinations. This requires a basic knowledge of what constitutes a nutritious diet and how people can best meet their nutritional needs from available resources.

Undesirable food habits and nutrition-related practices, which are often based on insufficient knowledge, traditions, and taboos or poor understanding of the relationship between diet and health, can adversely affect nutritional status. However, people can adopt healthier diets and improve their nutritional well-being by changing their food and nutrition attitudes, knowledge, and practices, if sufficient motivation is provided to do so.

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